Obesity rates continue to grow at a staggering pace, with dire implications to both individual health and our struggling health care system. Over 2 million people moved from overweight to obese status, based on the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale, a standardized measurement of body weight. Obesity has been implicated in a host of diseases ranging from heart disease and stroke to diabetes and cancer.
Stress and the Economy Blamed for Rising Obesity
According to a report published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the annual cost of obesity is $1,429 higher than that of their normal weight counterparts. The report concludes that the continued rise in obesity rates are due to the poor economy and high unemployment leading to increased levels of life stress situations.
Both stress and economic factors play a part in weight gain, as people look for inexpensive food choices which always tend to be high in trans fats, sugar and calories. Stress is one of the independent factors leading to weight gain which can be controlled. Excess stress leads to psychological eating, where food is used as a crutch to cover up the root cause of the problem. While the economy may not be within our control, the report suggests important tips to avoid becoming an obesity statistic.
Tip 1: Incorporate Physical Activity into Your Healthy Lifestyle
Most people simply don’t get enough physical activity to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, or to effectively promote weight loss. Experts advise that people exercise at a moderate pace for 20 to 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.
This is enough to significantly reduce disease risk, but even more intense exercise is needed to fuel weight loss. Avoid excessive exercising to lose weight, as your body will send the signal to eat more in an effort to compensate for calories burned.
Tip 2: Increase Fruits and Vegetables, Lower High Calorie Food and Drink
Balancing food groups and slowly making healthy food substitutions are proven to deliver weight loss results. Poor economic times are a recipe for dietary disaster, as people trend toward inexpensive fast and processed foods to save money, and ruin their health.
While fresh fruits and vegetables are more costly than refined foods, one tip is to find a local farmer’s market and look for produce which is locally grown, and less expensive. Fill up on fiber rich leafy greens and other vegetables which are in season, and during winter months, fresh frozen vegetables make for a healthy, inexpensive compliment to your meal.
Tip 3: Reduce Life’s Stressors
Stress is a hidden, yet mostly controllable cause of weight loss and health decline. Experts agree that continual stress from losing a job or serious financial concerns have the same health impact as smoking a pack of cigarettes each day. Stress causes alterations in brain chemistry and systemic inflammation, leading to extra pounds around the waist. Sometimes stress is unavoidable, but it’s important to identify and correct the cause of the stress as quickly as possible. Many people find meditation and yoga work well to provide a calm feeling which can be enough to tip the weight loss scales in your favor.
The number of overweight and obese individuals continues to grow at an alarming rate, and many of these people are unaware of the dire health consequences they face from the added weight. Moderate exercise, healthy diet and food substitution as well as stress reduction are all positive tools which lead to healthy weight loss and reversal of the obesity trend.